Thursday, March 31, 2011

Foreign Flicks: Veerana, Vengeance of the Vampire

Bollywood and horror mix like raisins and red curry!  We're back with another Bollywood film and this one is...interesting.  First, I covered Mahakaal: The Monster, a film that rips off the first three Nightmare on Elm Street films...and includes multiple musical numbers.  Next came Naina (aka The Eye), a remake that just rips off the J-Horror Genre in general.  Most recently, I reviewed a 2009 horror film called Agyaat: The Unknown, which was light on the musical numbers/humor, but did not ever show the monster- not freaking once!  Today's film is Veerana: Vengeance of the Vampire.  You know what most horror films were lacking? More 'V-words' in their title!  It's another film by the Ramsay Brothers, a pair that were behind a number of these films.  Thanks to Mondo Macabro, these are being released here in as pristine condition as is possible.  This film is an odd tale of revenge, murder and really-forced comedy.  I'll go into more detail below and, trust me, this is something to see.  Get out your dark, red spices as we prepare to dine into...
An evil Cult that worships a demonic figure is active in the area by way of an evil Witch.  That figure- Mahakaal.  Call-back or coincidence?  You decide!  They get stopped by a policeman- and the Witch is killed- working for the village, however, and have to plan their next move.  This comes pretty easy as they seemingly-kill the cop and cast a spell on his friend's daughter, corrupting her.  We jump ahead many years and find the girl is killing people.  The cop's daughter goes back into town, but only after meeting up with her cousin (the comic-relief guy) and a random stranger (the protagonist).  They fend off the advances of a Great Khali wannabe, but there is still trouble to deal with...
The daughter continues to kill random people, but nobody seems to quite catch on.  When they finally do, they take her to a therapist who hypnotizes her and makes her rip-off The Exorcist with her angry speech.  The dad is a bit upset to find this out and...just talks to her.  That will show her.  Between the random songs- two of which feature the possessed daughter- and a sub-plot featuring the cousin trying to be a horror writer, we're nearing the third act pretty quickly.  Those 140 minutes go by faster when you skip that.
Eventually, the guys all figure out what's going on and all hell breaks loose.  Our hero fights the Cultists in possibly the most choreographed fight scene possibly of all time.  Yes, lean in to every kick!  They get captured and the ceremony starts.  However, the tide turns in their favor when we learn that the cop was alive and helps them fight the Cult.  That sure was random.  Ultimately, good wins the day and the evil Witch is killed yet again when exposed to a giant, glitter-covered 30.  No, really.  The End.
What the hell was that?!?  The plot of this movie is kind of odd- to say the least.  The Cult wants to bring back the they make a girl evil and eventually she starts killing people.  The logic of this is never really explained.  On top of that, a number of holes pop up and are never really answered.  On top of that on top of that, the plot is bogged down with a number of musical numbers and a comedy sub-plot that serves no purpose.  These films were in serious need of a good Editor...and a Writer.  The Ramsay name is all over this film, from the two brothers to about six other people in areas like the Prop Department and Hair & Make-Up.  This truly was a family affair!  If you're a fan of foreign horror, there is definitely some good stuff here.  The Make-Up work is good at times and some of the real attempts at horror are decent.  You have to accept a lot of extra stuff with the movie too.  No matter what, this is a Mondo Macabro DVD.  You know what that means right?  We get that kick-ass Mondo Macabro Trailer Video.  I'm sold!
Next up, March goes one extra day (my bad) as I wrap up the month with a look at a Japanese, cult hit.  Will this film be watchable without Mike and the Bots around?  Stay tuned...

Foreign Flicks: Power Kids

You got your ass kicked by a ten-year old!  The premise of this Thai martial arts film is simple- kids beat up adults.  There is a little more to this film, but not a lot.  The people behind a whole slew of martial arts films made this movie.  All things considered, the Thai film industry seems to be obsessed with finding the next niche in their heroes.  They started with Tony Jaa in Ong-Bak, turned to a bunch of people in Born to Fight (including a guy with one leg), followed by a young girl with Down's Syndrome in Chocolate and now this.  How soon until we get a one-legged, one-eyed cat as an action hero?  Since this is a Thai film, they have to reference at least one aspect of Ong-Bak.  In this case, it's a picture-only cameo by one of its stars.  More on that later though.  Incidentally, the film was released in Thailand as Force of Five, hence the poster below.  Bring all your dead batteries to be recharged by the...
Our heroes are a group of kids who are all in a Muay Thai School.  That sets things up simply enough, huh?  The group is broken down into some basic cliches: rich kid, funny kid, serious girl, lead boy and sick kid.  We get a random bit where they explain that the father of Funny Kid is Pechtai Wongkamlao aka the sidekick from Ong-Bak and star of The Bodyguard films.  Ha ha- he's not really in this.  They get a fight scene about twenty-minutes in where they beat a Lex Luger look-alike.  Drama sneaks in, however, as Sick Kid is...well, sick.
The film's secondary plot involves Sick Kid goes to a race...involving remote control cars.  Wow, this is thrilling. A chase ensues, however, and the kid has a problem due to his bad heart.  Gee, was running a bad idea?!?  The kid waits for a heart transplant, which just happens to be available a short while later.  Trouble arises when a terrorist group takes over a nearby Hospital and takes the American Ambassador hostage.  Guess which Hospital has the hear that they need- I dare you.  Kids to the rescue.
The group breaks into the Hospital and tries to get to the heart.  This leads to some sneaking around and some fighting.  By the way, the lead terrorist is played by Johnny Nguyen, who was one of the lead bad guys in The Protector.  There is a young girl in the group- why?- and she feels bad when she hears the story of why the kids are there.  The gang get captured, but break free when the cops finally help out.  Unfortunately, the heart they need is destroyed before Johnny is taken out.  The dying terrorist girl lets them have her heart, however, saving the day for our heroes.  Their next challenge- puberty.  The End.
That's a lot of tiny knee blows to the head!  The plot of this movie is pretty bare-bones.  Kids have a crisis arise and they solve it by lots of kicking.  It's slightly more complex than High Kick Girl, I suppose.  Do we watch these films for the plot?  No, not really.  The kids can't act all that well, but they do fight quite well.  There's no real bad moments in the film, although some of them are just alright.  The martial arts are fun and what you get of them do not disappoint.  If you like Muay Thai films, you'll like this.  If you don't, don't bother.  That's simple enough, right?  Take us away, pointless photo cameo...
Next up, we jump over to India for an '80s horror film.  I bet you can guess that this film can contain dance numbers, right?  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Foreign Flicks: Wolfhound

From Russia with mild apathy.  Today's film is an import from Russia, which would make it the first one I've technically reviewed.  Newer members probably don't know about an early segment of Stock Footage Hell covering the multiple uses of footage from a single, Russian film made in the 1960s.  This time I'm talking about an actual, complete film that somehow got imported.  Given the background of this thing, I'm still a bit surprised that placed like Blockbuster carry/carried it.  It has the best reviewer comment ever on the DVD box though- 'Conan meets Lord of the Rings.'  Wow, that sounds awesome...if a bit confusing.  Allow me to explain this one.  The first part of the film is pretty much just a rip-off of Conan, while the rest is a quest across a land.  Evidently, that makes you a Tolkien story!   There's no ring, no Frodo and not even a Gollum in sight.  The plot involves a young man seeking revenge for the death of his family, only to get caught up in a bigger quest to save the world.  One thing to note here is that the character of Wolfhound is apparently a big deal over there, much in the same way we saw with Tarkan vs. the Vikings from Turkey.  This means that the film is very long, detailed and not necessarily made for a foreign market.  Oops- too late.  Get out your leash-leash as we go to pick up the...
We begin in the most serene and peaceful little village ever.  Gee, I wonder what is going to happen next.  Yeah, they die.  We awkwardly time-jump to several years later and see our hero, who looks like the singer from The Spin Doctors.  Who is he?  Why does he have a bat as a pet?  We can assume safely that this is the kid grown up, but they don't say that for awhile.  As far as the bat thing goes or what happened to him between capture and revenge, you'll have to wait for it.  How long?  90 minutes!  Before that happens, he breaks into a building full of slaves and kills some guys.  He finds a lady there and saves her, but only after lighting the place on fire and killing the guy who he was after.  The pair escape when an old man shows them a secret door, so they save him too.  The group meet up with a Princess and her entourage (sorry, no Turtle) & go along for the trip.  The film's villain- a guy in the same skull mask from Willow- attacks and uses his power, sending people flying through the air.  Yeah, I guess he has force powers or something.  He tries to kill the Princess, but Wolfhound stops him and cuts the guy's hand off.  He sees that the guy has the same tattoo as the person who killed his parents- who is named Man-Eater...seriously- so he decides to stay with her.  I hope you like being used as bait, Princess!
The middle portion of the film is a bit drawn-out and formulaic.  It breaks down to this...
* Wolfhound gets another ally.
* Wolfhound abandons his allies to go on his revenge quest.  See ya!
* Wolfhound saves the Princess from an assassination attempt.
* He finds out that the Princess is betrothed to the Son of Man-Eater.  Awkward!
* Wolfhound saves the Princess from another assassination attempt.
* The gang ends up at a town full of crazy people and they save a Witch.  Her purpose- pretty much nothing.
* The gang is attacked by evil smoke. No, really.  The Princess prays to her God and is saved by holy light.  Lazy Deus Ex Machina- check!
After a long wait, we finally find out about Wolfhound's past via flashback.  There's nothing all that interesting, save for the bit where he saves his pet bat from his prison.  That was worth the wait.  The awkward plot wrap-up begins with the Second-in-Command betraying the Princess and slipping a sleeping potion to Wolfhound.  The bad guy captures the Princess and takes her to some mountain to wake up an evil Witch lady (different one) by killing her.  Along the way, they apparently captured Wolfhound's a scene that they did not show.  Thanks for that.  Wolfhound joins forces with Son-of-Maneater & they go to save the day.  They fight the good fight, but the Witch is a giant, flying pile of rocks.  No, really.  With no hope, Wolfhound prays to his God and has his sword turned into a giant, magic flashlight that he uses to defeat the CG creature.  Weird.  He dies from his wounds, but is, um, brought back to life or something.  The movie is not good at explaining things, you know.  All is well, I guess, as Wolfhound gets the girl.  The End.
In Soviet Russia, movie confuses you!  The plot of this movie is long, strange and a bit repetitive.  They don't explain a lot of things and, when they finally do, it amounts to very little.  After 90 minutes of build-up, the only interesting addition to Wolfhound's back-story we get is that his father was killed for the sword he was making.  Just wow.  There is some good action here, but is muddled by inconsistent camera-work (i.e. Batman Begins) and questionable pacing.  Let me make this clear: this is not a bad movie.  It's a bit long, expository and impenetrable.  If you're Russian and know the lore involved here, you'll love this movie.  If you're the average movie-goer in America, you won't get what's so special about this 150 minute Import film. You may like it or you may not.  It's certainly unique though.
Next up, I cover a Thai film that features a new breed of fighters- literally.  It's little kids vs terrorists in this bizarre, Import film.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lost in Translation: The Wizard of Oz

We're off to see the French Wizard, the wonderful....
I forgot that Oz was floating in space.  Plus, if the Wizard was so helpful, the movie would have been a lot shorter!

Next up, we return to the shitty, hand-painted poster.  This time, James Bond must suffer!  Stay tuned...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Foreign Flicks: Mr. Hercules Against Karate

That's what killed Vaudeville!  If you hate comedy and hate good fight scenes, I have a movie for you!  This obscure, import comedy features bad jokes, bad dubbing, bad fight scenes and an amazing lack of logic.  In one regard, it is a sight to behold.  Of course, the sight of, say, a man having sex with a goat is something strange too, but I don't recommend looking at it!  What is this bizarre movie?  Brought to us by the usually-good Antonio Margheriti (aka the guy who's name is referenced in Inglorious Basterds), this Italian comedy starts out in Australia and eventually moves to China & claims that it's characters are American.  In other words, it finds a way to offend at least four nationalities in one fell swoop!  The plot is simple- an inexplicably-strong guy and his lanky friend get hired to rescue a kid in China.  'Comedy' and 'hijinx' ensue.  In a bizarre move, the film's comedy is terrible, but everything else is a riot.  Prepare to not laugh as we see the challenge of...
The film begins with a bearded man and his friend working at a Construction Site.  Well, one of them is working.  The other one- the never-called-that-Mr. Hercules- is defying the laws of Gravity by carrying the beam from one end and somehow keeping it straight.  For being stupid and illogical, the pair of fired by their boss, an even-fatter Blofeld.  We cut to the pair eating lunch at the Site...even though they were fired.  The boss even asks about this, but his second-in-command explains things.  Who's in charge again?  In the next scene, we see the work again.  When a film manages to make the idea of 'whether or not the two main characters are fired or not' confusing as all hell, what hope is there for the actual plot?  Mr. Hercules pulls on a cord, managing to pull down an oil rig.  The firing actually sticks this time- thank God- and the two contemplate splitting up.  They don't and instead go to a Chinese Australia.  I don't know- just go with it.  Hercules does a 'wacky' gag where he makes a giant bologna sandwich.  Ugh.  A random group of athletes show up and a fight ensues.  Despite showing Superman-level strength earlier, he doesn't instantly kill these guys.  The pair end up being hired by the owner to bring back his son from his ex-wife.  Off to China!
More terrible comedy and inconsistency ensue.  For example, Hercules tries to open the window on a plane.  Note the word 'tries' there, people!  He can pull down an oil rig, but that's too much for him?!?  They wander around the city, running across a random group of feuding martial artists on the ferry.  The guys get out of their vans, fight and just kind of leave when the thing stops- odd!  We get a romance sub-plot, which is just nauseating.  Hercules randomly-alternates between being an idiot (using chopsticks as toothpicks) and smart (referencing Shakespeare), all of which his new lady eats up.  We meet the villain of the movie, a generic Chinese businessman who has a Geisha wife with an ungodly amount of make-up on her face.  Seriously, she makes the lady from Vamp look toned down.  The guy finds out that the Restaurant owner sent our heroes over, so he sends his one-eyed henchman and some thugs.  Yeah, that doesn't work.  While we get more 'humor,' we see the villain sends in for a new guy- a Samurai.  You guys got the major Asian countries mixed up, guys!  He also doesn't use a sword, wear armor or put on shoes.  Good grief!
The good news: the film throws in some action.  The bad news: the film throws in stupid action.  We get a long sequence where the pair get split up, leading to the lanky guy doing all of the fighting.  Yes, let's see the guy without alternating levels of super-strength.  After that, they get picked up by the Police and asked to help find the villain.  Yeah, they were already doing that.  This plot thread goes pretty much nowhere, save for resolving the very end.  The romance sub-plot ends in the women being captured and the two guys going to save them.  They must face off with the villain's two henchman: the Samurai and...a Sumo Wrestler.  Wrong Asian country...again!  In a random moment, the lanky guy breaks a stool over Hercules' head, leading him to say this obtuse 'joke'" "That's what killed Vaudeville."  HUH?!?!?  Our heroes win, but the villain and his overly-made-up lady flee with the kid in tow.  They try to flee in a small plane, but Hercules holds it back with his bare hands!  Consistency for crying out loud!  The lanky guy has to land the plane in a five-minute filler scene as Hercules eats some cherries with the kid.  Uh-oh, there are jewels in there.  Insert bathroom joke here.  The quartet leave with some jewels- I hope you washed them!- as a Buddha statue randomly talks to them.  The End.
Is anyone really laughing?  The plot of this movie is a mess, mixing an overly-simple plot with bad execution that makes even that hard to follow.  A lot of this is not helped by the dubbing, but I doubt that this film was Rashomon in Italian!  The humor, as I mentioned, is either overly-broad or just plain terrible.  The best humor of the film is when it can't agree on how strong 'Hercules' is.  In the Lunchroom scene, he gently sets his hands down on a table, flipping it forward.  In a later scene, he does the same thing and nothing happens.  Oh, I forgot that most places keep springs under their tables!  There is a bizarre, train-wreck quality to this film that cannot be explained.  I'm not necessarily sorry that I watched this movie, as I have seen worse.  After all, it wasn't made by the Polonia Brothers!  If you want to see a bizarre culmination of non-sequitur ideas, this is your movie!  If you want to watch a clever comedy, this is not.  I will say this: it is on streaming (as of this writing), so at least you aren't wasting a rental on it.  Remember, 'that's what killed Vaudeville.'
Next up, I cover my first Russian film.  This one is a fantasy epic that is long, bizarre and a bit confusing.  Stay tuned...

VHS For The Win: The Snake Hunter Strangler

Wizard Video has brought us many interesting box arts for VHS For The Win lately and this is no exception.  I'm honestly not sure what it's trying to sell me...
So it's a guy who kills snake hunters?  Okay, so how do a 4-armed God, a man wearing snake a la Jake Roberts and Princess Leia back there relate?  My curiosity = piqued.

Up next, a curious Paul Naschy film shows up.  The curious part- it's actually French.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Stock Footage Hell: Galaxy of the Dinosaurs

There are some things that you just can't ignore.  In this conjoined segment with last week's Buy the DVD!, we see what exactly the hell Galaxy of the Dinosaurs is.  To warn you, this movie was released as part of the Bad Movie Police series...
A bunch of people have their ship crash on an empty planet.  So far, this plot feels oddly-familiar.  After a lot of filler, they come across the selling point of this movie (which was, ironically enough, never really sold)...
Yes, the dinosaurs are here and they're...also oddly-familiar.  This isn't what I think it it?
Yes, the footage from Planet of the Dinosaurs strikes again!  It wasn't that good, but I guess it has an edge on One-Million B.C. and Unknown Island...since it's in-color.  It wasn't really that good then though...
Wow, it's even more exciting to see this footage for a third time in this segment.  I should just rename this 'Planet of the Dinosaurs...Again!'  I won't, of course.
Seriously, guys- stop using this footage!  Unless you're the Rifftrax DVD, I don't want to see this footage again!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Rare Flix: Stephen King's Nightshift Collection Vol. 2

I've got you beat by six years, famous film version of this story!  In a bit of happenstance, I've uncovered a movie that has nearly been lost to history.  In 1983, a couple of TV movies were made based on selected works by Stephen King.  All of these were done from the 'Night Shift,' one of the more famous compilations by King.  For those not aware, this book is responsible for 7 films (8 if you count one being done twice), not to mention two more of the shorts ending up in Stephen King's Cat's Eye.  All of the short stories were done for other magazines, making this compilation a lot simpler method to see all of the works.  What is so significant about this TV film is that it's first story is Children of the Corn...I mean...
The movie begins with a batch of weird kids sitting around in a field and doing 'magic.'  "Bubble, bubble, toil and...actually, let's just stick with bubbles."  We see a very religious town meeting for Church, however, there is some inner turmoil.  The lead kid- notable for his mole- sees his mother with a new guy, who's a bit creepy-looking.  Let's just say that it's easy to picture him with a van full of ice cream and wine coolers.  The kid is not happy when he sees the two flirting in the house of God.  Shit is about to go down!  Sure enough, the kid kills his mother in bed with an axe.  That's what you get, what did they do again exactly?  The film jumps from 1971 to 1983 for no apparent reason.  Okay then.
A pair of people- a young couple- drive into town, but find it empty.  The lady freaks out a bit, especially when a teenager runs in the way and gets run over.  The guy, well, he doesn't.  This guy is eerily-calm, in fact. The guy must baseline Xanex at all times!  She calms down when she sees an eerie set of signs that warn people not to go into town.  Odd.  She freaks out again, however, when she sees that a calendar is still sitting at 1971 as the year and a picture of Nixon is on the wall.  What is your malfunction, lady?  They stop at the Church from before & the guy goes inside.  The kids finally attack, while the Leader (I'm guessing he's Isaac) attacks the guy.  The pair drive away, however, and the film abruptly ends.  Just for historical record: this film is 18 minutes long.  The End...unless you want to watch 'The Night Waiter' too...
History is an interesting thing, huh?  The plot of this movie is, well, super-condensed and odd.  To be fair, they did condense a short story into an 18-minute short.  You can't blame them for the format, I suppose.  Other than being awkward and rushed, the story works pretty well.  It is a bit funny to think that the original version of Children of the Corn is about 1/5 of the length of the actual film version, isn't it?  This film has very little terror and very little gore.  If you want to watch a non-condensed version that has all of the trimmings, watch the original film.  If you want to see a bunch of shitty sequels to it, watch the shitty sequels to it.  This is an interesting bit of history, but not all that interesting in its actual execution.  Take us away, creepy, child-molester version of John Oates...
Up next, we begin a week of Foreign Flicks.  First on the block, an Italian film that is set in China & features characters that are supposed to American- huh?!?  Stay tuned...

Raiding *Blockbuster* Video *UPDATED*

It sucks to be a guy who works at a Blockbuster Video store these days.  I feel bad for them- honest- but I also take delight in what it offers me: a chance to buy out their stock of movies super-cheap!

Here's my take so far:

* District 9
* The Expendables
* Piranha (1978)
* American Psycho
* Piranha (2010)
* Sukiyaki Western Django
* Machete
* Stuck (2007)
* Hard-Boiled (forgot about it- sorry)
* Red Cliff Part 1 & 2 (couldn't announce it, since it was a birthday present...which he has now)
* Pontypool (You win, Internet!)
* Revenge of the Ninja (Hi, Carl)
* Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
* For Your Consideration
* Ghost Town (2008)

That's a pretty good haul, right?  That's all for about $85 too.

I plan on making at least one more trip to one of the *at least* three stores in my area that are closing down.  Again- I'm sorry for your bad luck...but I'm happy for mine.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rare Flix: Nightmare Sisters

David DeCoteau strikes again!  That gay-but-totally-not-gay director of such films as Witches of the Caribbean and Ancient Evil: Scream of the Mummy is back with this 1987 film made for a super-low budget. Much like The Terror, this movie was made because a previous film- Sorority Babes in Slime-o-Rama- finished early and had some money left over.  They had a rented house and the stars for a little while longer, so why not make a film?!?  The film is notable for two things.  One- it stars a trio of famous, '80s babes that include Linea Quigley.  Two- it nearly disappeared forever.  It did resurface, however, so I have to talk about it.  Let's just get it over with, shall we?  The film is about a trio of silly babes who get possessed by a Succubus and nudity ensues.  Yea.  Put an extra-strong lock on your belt buckle as we go to meet the...
We begin with a nearly-ten minute sequence involving a woman going to see a psychic.  It goes on forever!  The whole point of this: to establish that the crystal ball is possessed.  After more drawn-out comedy, the trio of gals have a party with a trio of nerdy guys.  They have a seance and proceed to get possessed by the Succubus.  This cause a major change.  This leads to...
Boobs.  That's really all I have to say.
After more hijinks, the people figure out that the girls have been transformed.  They do another ceremony and get rid of the creature.  Random lightning occurs in the background and all is made well with the world.  There- I just saved you 80+ minutes.  The End.
You should have stayed lost!  The plot of this movie is a joke and it's on the audience!  Seriously, why was this movie made?  You had some money, a rented house and some women who would agree to be topless?  That's a reason to do a lot of things, but make a shitty comedy is not one of them.  The movie at least realizes it's terrible nature and just tries to distract me.  Unfortunately, this is no longer 1987 and the Internet exists in a fairly-accessible form.  If I want to just see boobs, I'll go to every site other than mine.  At least those jerks don't put big, ugly boxes over them.  The women are kind of hot in a drug-addled, '80s kind of way.  However, they have one big thing going against them- they are in this movie.  If they were just standing around topless in my house, that would be a different story.  Take us away, blatant cross-promotion for another David DeCoteau film...
Up next, I cover the rarest bit of Rare Flix this week.  If you think you've seen the first version of this Stephen King tale, think again!  Stay tuned...

Poor Bastards of Cinema: Legion of the Dead

Oh, Asylum- don't you realize that I'm the Poor Bastard here . You don't need to create more...

In Legion of the Dead, the Mummies finally rise from you graves and go after our heroine, since her sister is planned to be a sacrifice.  Getting in the way of this are a bunch of random guests at the Hotel.  Get them, Mummies!
You caught that random, brown-haired woman.  What are you going to do now?
Oh, that works.  As a bonus, make sure to replace her with a body double for the later reveal shot when the Sheriff arrives.
Good.  Your punishment of this random person whom you have no emotion towards is now complete!

Next up, a man learns the danger of being a blue-collar worker in an action film.  Here's a hint- it involves a Hologram.

Rare Flix: The Alchemist

Charles Band strikes again!  This 1986 horror film is by the famous Band, the man behind Full Moon- especially in its more recent years.  Before he got there, however, he was directing a lot of random films.  Guess what- this is one of them!  The film is called The Alchemist, but I can't really think of why.  I don't see any transmutation of metal anywhere!  Did the gang over at Full Moon just pick names out of a hat?  Of course, they would go on to make their titles into puns like Head of the Family, so which one is good?  I had to work long and hard to track this one down, so I can't just skip it.  The plot of this movie involves a family curse and a woman having freaky dreams.  I'm thrilled already.  Toss all of your lead into a pile as we go to meet...
The film begins with a man wandering around the woods.  Wow- we're two-for-two on that!  He confronts an evil man at an altar & demands that he set a woman free.  He tries to stab the guy, but he moves out of the way, causing the man to stab the woman instead.  After the titles, we jump to a P.O.V. shot of a creature running around the woods.  We juxtapose this with a woman driving down the road for no apparent reason (both parts).  The man ends up in the house owned by an old woman who promises to complete the spell.  The woman continues to have random flashbacks, which distracts from her driving.  She stops and picks up a guy, but her reactions freak him out.  She drops him off and drives off...but comes back again.  Oy.  Meanwhile, the old woman casts a spell involving the glowing fluid from Re-Animator.  That stuff gets around!
The two drive around some more until they get to the woods.  They wander around even more until they meet the man at the cabin (Robert Ginty) and the old woman.  It's around this time that things start to get weird.  Ginty has a vision of the dead woman and starts to look crazy.  Oh yeah, a portal to Hell opens up too.  This event is so weird that...the film barely focuses on it at all.  Our heroes decide to drive away from all of this.  Take me with you!
The drive away doesn't quite work out, so we still have a movie.  The lady's visions flare up again, causing them to cancel the trip.  The evil guy from the beginning returns, although I'm really not quite sure why.  Oh yeah, the old lady dies randomly by tripping and falling on a spike.  You're a great sorceress, obviously!  They wander onto a field that resembles the other dimension from Dracula Rising, which is only fitting when they came from the cabin that would be used in Totem years later!  We get a rehashed scene from the intro, but Ginty manages to stab the villain this time.  He gets sucked into the Portal and Ginty turns into dust.  Our heroes just kind of leave.  The End.
Seriously, where is all of the gold?  The plot of this movie is just kind of odd and aimless.  What was the point of any of this?  I couldn't exactly follow it, but I doubt that.  It involves a house, some witch lady and a weird guy in 1871.  By the way, flashing the year up every time you do a flashback only serves to make things more confusing!  Unfortunately for the film, it's too confusing, slow-paced and random to make a lot of sense.  If I can tell what happens, I may actually make some sort of emotional investment.  On the plus side, it gives us goofy shots like this...
Next up, yet another film from VHS For the Win arrives in proper review format.  This is about siblings that kill...something other than my time, hopefully.  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rare Flix: Crypt of the Living Dead

Can a film live up to its awesome poster?  The question is raised yet again by today's film- Crypt of the Living Dead.  Oh wait, I mean Hannah, Queen of the Vampires.  I mean, Young Hannah, Queen of the Vampires.  Yeah, this film has about as many titles as a Zombi film.  This is a Spanish film that got dubbed, had some new footage added and was released in the United States.  Does the film contain zombies?  No.  However, Romero's film was only about five years old at this point, so it was ripe for copying.  The plot actually involves some sort of evil witch coming back to life.  Oddly, this film is apparently more readily available than The Brain, since it actually has a DVD release from way-back-when.  Who'd have thunk it?  Let's see if this turns out as well.  Prepare to fight some vampire-zombies as we enter the...
The film starts with a random guy wandering around for about five minutes.  He eventually gets attacked by a bearded man with an eye-patch (Jean-Pierre Lafitte?!?) and crushed by a tomb.  Next, we see a guy goes to an island in the middle of...somewhere.  The film is a bit vague about this, at least in the dubbed version that I had.  Why am I not surprised?  He's there to bury his father and gets caught up in the local folklore.  It would be nice if one island didn't have a secret cult, some buried monster or a penchant for murdering 40+ year-old British virgins.  Is that too much to ask?  Our hero, of course, has none of this and just focuses on the task ahead.  The townspeople- including a blind guy with the worst fake beard since Return to Sleepaway Camp- will not let this go.  They tell him all about this evil, vampire lady who is buried there, but he doesn't care.  Open the crypt!
The witch/vampire lady is awakened, but doesn't feel like doing anything over just yet.  No, she's one of those 'I'll wait until later to do anything' villains.  She does, however, go outside and turn into a wolf.  She does this by way of spraying out the green smoke from the Wizard of Oz.  No, really.  We get more random moments with the townspeople, as well as a sub-plot involving our hero and the film's only non-vampire woman.  She's a teacher, who serves as background to another sub-plot involving two students.  It only matters for the ending, so don't focus too much on it.  I assume that if I skip ahead, something serious will happen here...
Well, I was somewhat correct.  After a lot of teasing it, the crazy, bearded guy finally gets killed.  The teacher's sub-plot comes to bear as her brother (I think) proves to be the lead guy behind a cult worshiping the vampire lady.  That sure added a lot, thank you.  In the final confrontation, the vampire lady gets set on fire and runs off of a cliff.  That's cool, but I'd rather see you drive a car while on fire.  In the Epilogue, the girl from earlier invites the kid inside with her.  Big shock- she's a vampire.  The End.
You should have stayed dead.  The plot of this movie is alright, but nothing special.  It's the pacing that kills the experience, unfortunately.  I wanted to like this- really, I did.  Even in 1973, nothing about the story was all that unique.  Mind you, I have to judge this film fairly.  The movie was made in Spain, Edited in America and had new footage added as well by an American director.  I don't know what parts were made by whom, nor do I know what writing changes were made for the dubbing process.  As far as the visuals go, the movie has some nice looks to it.  It reminded me a bit of Night of the Seagulls, which would make sense since they were both Spanish.  If you can find the film, it's not bad.  I would love to get my hands on the original version of the film and judge it properly.  Of course, the big thing is this- there is never a moment where a lady walks out of a coffin with a wolf head.  What's the deal?!?
Next up, we cover a film that is all about alchemy.  Will this be a pile of lead or gold?  Stay tuned...